October 8, 2016
Between day-of prep that involves an impromptu jammy pack jam session, vow composition advice that sounds like it could be coming from the mouth of a professional (trust us, we’d know), oh-so-dreamy photography, an epic maid(s) of honor speech and a “treat-yo-self” donut spread, we really couldn’t have found a better real wedding to kick off 2017.
Edited by Kaitlyn Murray
How did you two meet?
John is originally from Narragansett and I am from the Cape. We met in Newport through mutual friends during my senior year in college at Salve. He complimented me on my handwriting and I loved how kind he was. We spent that summer after graduation in Newport getting to know each other. His easy going personality balanced my passionate energy and things felt easy between us.
Was your proposal a surprise?
John and I had been together for four years before we got engaged. It was just before Christmas, and John had planned a surprise date day in Newport at some of our favorite places. I remember it was such a perfectly simple day with lots of time to wander and reminisce about that summer when we met. Just before dinner, John led me to a quiet spot in the wharf by the big anchor and asked me to marry him. His friend was there to photograph the moment and it’s one of my favorite pictures–him, there on one knee, next to the anchor statue, and me gleefully covering my mouth, eyes wide with excitement.
How did you come across Ochre Court?
I had heard that alumni could get married at Ochre, imagining that it must be a magical place to spend your wedding day. Once we were engaged we knew that we wanted a Newport wedding, knowing that the city held so much meaning for our relationship already and Ochre Court seemed like an obvious choice. Touring the venue after our engagement brought back old memories and right then we decided that it would be a once in a lifetime opportunity to throw a party for all of our friends and family in a mansion.
How would you describe the overall look of your wedding?
So much of our theme/look was already there in the venue. When you walk into Ochre Court, it is overwhelmingly grand with its beautiful details worked into every corner of every room. The aesthetic is rich with romance and history. We wanted to simply compliment the elegance of the venue, choosing gold details with pops of my favorite fall burgundy color to add some zazzle. The flowers were loose and beautiful, the girls wore various rose gold dresses which they chose themselves, and on each place setting was a short love poem written by my former second and fifth grade students. It was beautiful and personal.
It looks like you had so much fun getting ready on the morning of! So is it safe to say that you were more excited than nervous? I also have to ask about the fanny pack, where did it come from?
I can’t say I was nervous, but I was surely overwhelmed with energy and love. While I was getting my makeup done, I was jittery and excited so I remember listening to some meditation with my headphones to center myself and remember that this was the very day I had been looking forward to for months and months. After the calm, the dance party ensued! You see, I have the most amazing friends, especially my two bests, Dre and Liz. We have been friends since middle school (they were my “coMOHs”) and we have a blast every time we’re together. It’s not unusual for us to be found dancing on furniture in the lobby of a hotel in the middle of the day, just because.
Someone told me I should go sit so I didn’t sweat my makeup off, to which I proclaimed “F that,” and began jumping on the couch. We always have impromptu dance parties with the Jammy Pack and my wedding day would be no different!
To be fair, Liz is actually the original one out of our friend group to have a Jammy Pack. I swear she never leaves home without her gold sequined jammy, providing our favorite source of dance party music and instant fun! Its basically a fanny pack with built in speakers and a cord that plugs into your phone. You can find them online in all different patterns (the hardest part is choosing). Invest in one and your friends will thank you later.
Did you always know you were going to do a first look? And would you recommend other couples do the same?
Yes and yes! We were adamant about wanting to be at our cocktail hour to be with each other, friends and family. A first look allowed us to take all of our pictures beforehand so that once the wedding began, we could just be and enjoy everything.
Did you and John write your own vows? If so did you find that they came easy or was it difficult to sum up your relationship in so little words?
If you asked either of us what our favorite part of the WHOLE wedding was, it would absolutely, hands down, be our vows. Although we were nervous to do it, and John is really not one who loves writing or public speaking, it was absolutely worth it.
The actual writing process was funny. We talked casually about how long they would be and agreed to balance funny lines with meaningful ones. All that week before, we asked each other cryptic questions randomly, like “how do your vows end?” and “just how many promises do you have?” We wanted to be on the same page but also keep our heartfelt thoughts secret and a surprise. As we read them aloud to each other during the ceremony, we had the whole room laughing and crying at the same time. At the end we high-fived, mouthing “you crushed it” to each other because they were just so much better than we had each ever imagined. Those moments were so genuinely filled with love and we’ll never forget that feeling.
What advice would you give to couples who are thinking of writing their own vows?
Give yourself time—open a new note on your phone and over the course of months and any time something comes to you, write it down right then. Do a little research—go online and read some vows that you love, borrowing favorite lines and ideas. Add humor—John literally wrote about promising to recycle and keep reusable bags in his car and I said I would always laugh at his dad jokes. Speak from the heart—balance the funny lines with some really really kind ones too. Keep it short—by being choosy with the promises you write, you give them a bit more weight and meaning.
On to the reception: What’s going on in these pics?
These are pictures of my best friends giving the most epic maid of honor speech of all time. At this point, Liz and Dre are suggesting a bunch of dance move ideas for John to use to tell me his feelings in different moments throughout our marriage (like when he comes home from work and he’s too tired, he can do the robot). The last one they did was the “lunge and cheers” and I couldn’t believe that they got every single guest, fancily dressed and in this beautiful mansion, to lunge and cheers to us! I can’t remember the last time I laughed that hard.
What made you decide to serve donuts instead of a traditional cake?
We had seen the donut idea somewhere on the internet and then attended a friend’s wedding who had the most amazing “treat yo-self” donut table. It seemed easy enough to make a pegboard stand or two and honestly who doesn’t love donuts? We picked Allie’s donuts because they’re pretty well known to most local Rhode Islanders. They make about a zillion different kinds and they are all AMAZING. The day we taste tested and asked the girl at the counter for “one of each, please,” she looked at us with an “are you sure??” expression on her face! Over 2 dozen donuts later, our favorite by far was the Maple frosted. The best part of all though was that the whole table worth of donuts and donut holes was only $150! Not only was it easy, tasty, and super cute, it was also affordable!
What was each of your favorite moments from that day?
Missy’s Favorite Moments: The vows, the maid of honors’ speech, dancing all night inside a circle of friends, and going out to the bar after in my new “married AF” shirt.
John’s Favorite Moments: Our first look, the vows, having all my family and friends around, the endless dancing, and the awesome venue.
Were there any hitches that day? If so, how did you overcome them?
We were so fortunate and well planned that pretty much everything happened as we hoped. There were only 2 glitches that we can remember. One was the bustle of my dress. From the start it hadn’t quite come out quite the way I pictured in my mind. Then right before the reception, my bridesmaids had a hard time finding the teeny hooks and loops. My friend said she was in panic mode and with laser focus, finally found the practically invisible missing loop. While dancing however, it came un-bustled probably 8 or 9 times. The first few were fixed in the bathroom with bridesmaids by my side but after a while, I had random girlfriends with flashlights hooking my bustle right on the dang dance floor (I didn’t want to miss any more fun moments)! We eventually safety pinned it, saying “good enough” and dancing the rest of the night away. The other glitch was that we had paid for a bus that drove a total of five guests to the wedding and 1 guest home. Fail. I never even got to the bottom of what actually happened. All I know is that my dad picked up five of my stranded friends on the side of the road and drove them to the bar because they missed the bus and didn’t fit in an Uber (and they never thought to just order two)!
- When you’re planning, don’t worry about making all the “right” choices. You will literally go crazy. Tell yourself that both white and off-white napkins would look good and you don’t have to convince yourself that one will be better than the other. (Donuts are not better than cupcakes…both are great!) It’s ok to just close your eyes and pick one for the sake of choosing (or eeny, meeny, miney, moe works too). Or ask your friends what they did and if you loved it, just do the same thing. Most former brides actually love to share all their newly learned wedding secrets!
- Do the mental work. Keep goals manageable, ask for help, and meditate. Read wedding books and articles that align with who you are and are about real people (A Practical Wedding was a godsend). Prepare yourself for stressful moments. Remember that you’re embarking on a marriage and allow time to do the mental processing that comes along with making a lifelong commitment to someone.
- Remember that your relationships with people are so much bigger than a one-day wedding (and dare I say, even more important). Let your bridesmaids wear dresses that make them feel fabulous and don’t make groomsmen rent ill fitting tuxes if they already have their own black suits. Keep things as affordable as you can, talk about things other than the wedding, and make sure your people are happy and feeling good. Ultimately, everyone loves you and is going to do what you need them to do but they also have lives and other things on their minds. Remember balance.
Bonus: John and I found ourselves having really hard moments throughout the planning process and it was beginning to consume our lives. Alas, “Wedding Meeting” was born. Every couple weeks, on a Saturday or Sunday, we would go out for breakfast or coffee together with notebooks and laptops in toe. We would do all the discussing then–updating each other on what we had thought of or booked, asking questions about upcoming decisions, and making new to-do lists for each other. We would try our best to save all the wedding talk for Wedding Meeting so that there was a time and a place for us to handle all the planning and we could go on living our normal lives too!
Photography: Paul Robert Berman Photography // Invitations/ Programs: Pink Polka Dot in Falmouth, Mass. //Signage: DIY by Missy // Bridal shoes: Betsey Johnson // Bridal Gown: Maggie Sottero, Julie’s Bridal Boutique in New Bedford, Mass. // Bridal headpiece: Kathy Johnson (Etsy) // Bridal and Bridesmaid Jewelry: Jojo Loves You in Boston, Mass. // Bridesmaid dresses: Variety of designers and styles, Bella Bridesmaids // Hair : Jill Franchi // Makeup: Tamar Karakozian // Floral Design: David Urban of the Secret Garden// Groom’s suit: Macy’s // Ceremony & Reception: Ochre Court // Officiant: Scott Peterson (friend of the bride and father of one of the maids of honor)// Catering: Sodexo Catering (through Salve Regina University) // Donuts: Allie’s Donuts// Music: DJ John Bellagama.